Arsenal again displayed their high level of inconsistency in the title race following another under-par performance in Sunday’s 0-0 draw against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light.
Petr Cech and the woodworks denied Sunderland who have now escaped relegation zone a priceless Premier League victory, as Arsenal failed to reclaim third place from Manchester City.
The Gunners needed to win at the Stadium of Light to edge ahead of City once again, but had to make do with a point from a 0-0 draw which lifted the Black Cats out of the relegation zone on goal difference.
Arsène Wenger stuck with the same side that had comfortably beaten West Bromwich Albion at Emirates Stadium on Thursday.
That meant Per Mertesacker started alongside Laurent Koscielny at centre half, with Olivier Giroud retaining his place as the spearhead of Arsenal’s attack.
The hosts came into this game knowing a point would take them out of the relegation zone. Sam Allardyce’s side had only lost two of their last nine Premier League games and included former Gunner Mannone in their starting line-up.
While Sunderland have struggled at home this season, Sam Allardyce’s side had seen form improve in 2016, and knew a point here would take them out of the relegation zone. Former Gunner Vito Mannone started in goal, with Sebastian Larsson among their substitutes.
Jack Wilshere made his first-team return as Arsenal were held to an entertaining goalless draw by Sunderland on Sunday afternoon.
In a fiercely-contested fixture, both sides could perhaps count themselves unfortunate not to pick up what would have been a vital three points.
Sunderland came closest to winning it – Patrick van Aanholt’s first-half free-kick striking the post – though Arsenal made plenty of chances too, with the best of them falling to Alex Iwobi.
In an end-to-end second half, both sides would continue to make chances, though were denied by a mixture of inprecise passing and some good saves by Petr Cech and Vito Mannone.
Wilshere came on for the final seven minutes and looked sharp but ultimately couldn’t inspire Arsène Wenger’s side to victory.
At the end of it, a point probably suited the hosts more. Sunderland are out of the relegation now, but are level on points with 17th-placed Norwich.
Arsenal meanwhile, remain in fourth ahead of next weekend’s visit of Norwich.